Johnson, Stein, McMullin Locked Out of Presidential Debates

 

jill-stein-gary-johnson-evan-mcmullin-green-party-2016The system is rigged. The Commission on Presidential Debates announced today that the only candidates to be invited to the first scheduled debate are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. While claiming to be non-partisan, the CPD has again demonstrated that it is instead bipartisan — a racket designed to protect the interests of the Democratic and Republican parties against the threat of other options.

CPD’s official selection criteria are as follows:

  1. Candidate is constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States.
  2. Candidate has achieved ballot access in a sufficient number of states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority in the general election.
  3. Candidate has demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results. These polls are from ABC-Washington Post; CBS-New York Times; CNN-Opinion Research Corporation; Fox News; and NBC-Wall Street Journal.

Libertarian Gary Johnson has been endorsed by four major newspapers and is on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This means he obviously meets the first two tests but fails to achieve the arbitrary third test. The banning also applies to his running mate Bill Weld who will not be allowed to attend the first vice presidential debate. Johnson expected this result, but remained disappointed:

I would say I am surprised that the CPD has chosen to exclude me from the first debate, but I’m not. After all, the Commission is a private organization created 30 years ago by the Republican and Democratic parties for the clear purpose of taking control of the only nationally-televised presidential debates voters will see. At the time of its creation, the leaders of those two parties made no effort to hide the fact that they didn’t want any third party intrusions into their shows.

The only time a third candidate has been allowed on the stage was 1992, when both parties wanted him on the stage for their own purposes. It should be noted that, when Perot was allowed on the stage, polls showed his support to be in single digits, below where Johnson and Weld are currently polling.

Green Party Candidate Jill Stein is polling at less than half of Johnson’s numbers, but has qualified to appear on 45 state ballots and DC. For his part, upstart Evan McMullin has invited Stein and Johnson to join him for a debate, even if it is unapproved by CPD:

The Commission on Presidential Debates will never let anyone but the two major party nominees into the debate. Why? Because the “Commission” for Presidential Debates isn’t a public commission at all — it’s a corporation owned and operated by the two major parties.

The Commission on Presidential Debates is not an honest broker, and it doesn’t serve the public interest. It exists to protect Hillary and Trump — not to look out for the American people.

What do you think, Ricochetti: Should Johnson, Stein, and/or McMullin be allowed into the official debates or did CPD make the right call?

There are 99 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Johnson should be there.  We need a libertarian party.  We already have a green party.  A conservative party would be nice but we lost our chance.

    • #1
  2. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: This means he obviously meets the first two tests but fails to achieve the arbitrary third test.

    Are you suggesting that the other two tests are not arbitrary?

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:The system is rigged.

    Do you believe that it would be impossible to have come up with this system on a good faith basis, or do you have other evidence that the criteria were introduced in bad faith?

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:What do you think, Ricochetti: Should Johnson, Stein, and/or McMullin be allowed into the official debates or did CPD make the right call?

    Better still, suggest a rule that you believe might have been put forward in ignorance of who the candidates were, or that might be effectively put forward as a rule for 2020.

    Johnson isn’t doing this because he knows that there’s no serious alternative to a polling cut off for the debate inclusion of the sort that were used in the Republican and Democratic primary debates (to be fair to Johnson, he complains about those, too, suggesting that he wouldn’t have left the party if he wasn’t excluded on the meaningless basis that he couldn’t make the 2% cutoff). Instead, he argues on the basis that Jon does; we should should be respecters of persons, not of rules.

    There is a decent argument for having undercard debates, but there is nothing to stop McMullin, Stein, Castle, La Riva, Keniston, Johnson, Skewes, Maturen, White, Silva, Anderson, Hedges, Soltysik, Moorhead, De La Fuente, Hoefling, and pals from organizing one. I’m sure that some subset of them will and I hope that it provides for entertaining television.

    • #2
  3. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    I Walton:Johnson should be there. We need a libertarian party. We already have a green party. A conservative party would be nice but we lost our chance.

    What idea or policy, specifically, do you think the electorate would be exposed to via the debates if Johnson was to debate? Or do you believe there would be a different benefit? What do you believe the rule should be for 2020?

    • #3
  4. CM Member
    CM
    @CM

    Johnson and Stein should based on ballot access.

    McMullin is not on enough ballots.

    I do not like the 2 party system. Deciding based on simple majority is splitting our country in 2. We have, basically, a 50/50 split on popular vote and its quite clear that there is no agreement in both houses of what should be reigning policies or priorities. If we had at least 3 parties, setting VP as 2nd place party could work to get majority representation in the executive.

    I largely want to see more party repesentation in congress.

    • #4
  5. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    Absolutely they should be allowed.

    This is the opposite of my argument for the republican primaries, where I think a max of 5 candidates should have been allowed to debate.  But that is one party controlling it’s own nomination, not an arbitrary body controlling a national election.

    • #5
  6. The Question Inactive
    The Question
    @TheQuestion

    Thank you for presenting this information.  I was thinking that the commission can’t just let everyone in and has to set some kind of limit, but it seems to me that the first two conditions the OP mentioned, mainly the second one, are pretty restrictive already.  The 15% threshold is a very high bar to meet.  I wonder how many people actually fulfill the first two, mainly the second one, being on enough ballots to win a majority in the Electoral College.

    I feel like a 5% polling threshold would be more appropriate.  If there was some other screen that didn’t depend just on popularity that would be even better.

    I don’t like Gary Johnson much, but he’s apparently taking votes away from Hillary so I like that.

    • #6
  7. CM Member
    CM
    @CM

    James Of England: What idea or policy, specifically, do you think the electorate would be exposed to via the debates if Johnson was to debate?

    Johnson’s a sad rep of the libertarian party and it might be best they miss this debate, but i want viability for this party and debates provide a lot of coverage and “legitimacy”.

    Somewhere in the Obama era, I became hyper aware that the media has too much power concerning our election process. The ability to pick and choose what they cover is manipulative and they are largely picking our presidents for us. Having Johnson on stage makes the LP somewhat harder to marginalize into non-existence.

    • #7
  8. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    RyanM:Absolutely they should be allowed.

    This is the opposite of my argument for the republican primaries, where I think a max of 5 candidates should have been allowed to debate. But that is one party controlling it’s own nomination, not an arbitrary body controlling a national election.

    Do you think that they should change the rules for this cycle after laying those rules down and have people invest their time and effort (or otherwise) in response to that, or do you think that they should have different rules for 2020?

    What rules do you think should be in play?

    Have you previously argued for this position?

    • #8
  9. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    CM:

    James Of England: What idea or policy, specifically, do you think the electorate would be exposed to via the debates if Johnson was to debate?

    Johnson’s a sad rep of the libertarian party and it might be best they miss this debate, but i want viability for this party and debates provide a lot of coverage and “legitimacy”.

    Somewhere in the Obama era, I became hyper aware that the media has too much power concerning our election process. The ability to pick and choose what they cover is manipulative and they are largely picking our presidents for us. Having Johnson on stage makes the LP somewhat harder to marginalize into non-existence.

    If you have someone on stage calling himself a libertarian and arguing that we should increase social security contributions in part because it’s not really a tax, but a retirement account, or saying that we shouldn’t support religious freedom because taken to extremes it would permit homicide, or that we should keep the gun control we have, but add more regulations to protect against ownership by the mentally ill and such, or that it’s awful when Republicans object to Planned Parenthood funding, or that we should have the Federal Government engage in emergency spending to provide African American men with jobs, does it seem to you like that will educate the public about what a libertarian is in a helpful way?

    What function does a Libertarian Party that calls for these things serve? What would be the cost of it being marginalized and instead having libertarian ideas being promoted by people like Sen. Paul and Rep. Amash?

    • #9
  10. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    The Question:I don’t like Gary Johnson much, but he’s apparently taking votes away from Hillary so I like that.

    He does not. Jill Stein takes votes away from Clinton, and her partisan impact is larger than Johnson’s, so “third parties” take votes away from Clinton, but Johnson helps Clinton in every single four way poll that asks that question that has been published.

    • #10
  11. CM Member
    CM
    @CM

    James Of England: If you have someone on stage calling himself a libertarian and arguing that we should increase social security contributions

    Like I said… he’s a poor choice and probably best he sit this one out.

    However, that 15% threshold, we could argue, doomed the LP into picking a candidate they thought could get them 15% without the same machine as the R and Ds. Maybe without that threshold, we could have Andrew Peterson at the debate and not the Purple Rino.

    • #11
  12. DEFCON1 Inactive
    DEFCON1
    @DEFCON1

    There quite simply isn’t a single set of criteria for determining who is allowed to be in the debates that would be considered objective by all parties. Whether or not it is true that the commission is intentionally trying to prevent candidates from other parties from participating is not verifiable; however, I don’t think it is reasonable to call it “unfair.” McMullin and Stein do not have anywhere close to enough support from a polling perspective to justify being allowed in the debates. Johnson has the strongest case, but he still lacks sufficient support in my opinion. Yes the 15% line is arbitrary, as are the rest of the criteria, but a candidate that cannot garner at least that much support has no chance of winning, and it is arguable that a candidate with only 15% support still doesn’t have chance. They will be a distraction. Regardless, for one to be really upset about these 3rd party candidates not appearing in the debates one would have to believe that their inclusion in the debates would greatly enhance their prospects of electoral success, which is a pretty specious idea that borders on fantasy.

    • #12
  13. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    The Question:Thank you for presenting this information. I was thinking that the commission can’t just let everyone in and has to set some kind of limit, but it seems to me that the first two conditions the OP mentioned, mainly the second one, are pretty restrictive already.

    Are you seriously suggesting that “must be a 35 year old citizen” is in any way restrictive?

    There are currently only five candidates who meet the second requirement (it wouldn’t just admit Stein, but also Castle), but the reason for that is because there’s currently no benefit to spending that money. La Riva is half way, for instance, but hasn’t gone further because the rules were clear and there wasn’t any point. Changing the rules at this point would be incredibly unfair to the hard work of the Peace and Freedom Party. Rod Silva, who runs restaurants set up a Presidential bid in the hope of raising awareness of the need to eat healthy food of the sort that he serves and is on the ballot in Colorado.

    If the rule was the you got to star in some of the highest rated television in the year, (and get a ton of newspaper profiles and such in the buildup), it would make financial sense for many lobbying groups to get their guy up there, possibly multiple guys (who wouldn’t want to see both a Coke Candidate and a Pepsi candidate? Or, to go the extra mile, two Twix candidates with identical platforms?)

    We already reward people who get 5% with a hundred million dollars in public money. How could it possibly appear that we don’t do enough to encourage this sort of hucksterism in which people who know that they will not become President separate the vulnerable from their money on the basis of promises to achieve whatever the donors want them to achieve?

    • #13
  14. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    CM:

    James Of England: If you have someone on stage calling himself a libertarian and arguing that we should increase social security contributions

    Like I said… he’s a poor choice and probably best he sit this one out.

    However, that 15% threshold, we could argue, doomed the LP into picking a candidate they thought could get them 15% without the same machine as the R and Ds. Maybe without that threshold, we could have Andrew Peterson at the debate and not the Purple Rino.

    The LP chose their candidates because they could get more fundraising for the party than anyone else. @franksoto and I were at the convention where they chose, and that argument constituted more than half of the claims that he was the best candidate for nominee. It’s one of the problems with having the people who choose the nominee be, to a large extent, people who expect to be paid by those donations. The target isn’t 15%, and has never been 15%. It’s 5% and public funding. Johnson has said that he will drop out if he doesn’t get 15%, but that was so obviously insincere that I haven’t seen a single person calling on him to do so.

    • #14
  15. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    James Of England:

    RyanM:Absolutely they should be allowed.

    This is the opposite of my argument for the republican primaries, where I think a max of 5 candidates should have been allowed to debate. But that is one party controlling it’s own nomination, not an arbitrary body controlling a national election.

    Do you think that they should change the rules for this cycle after laying those rules down and have people invest their time and effort (or otherwise) in response to that, or do you think that they should have different rules for 2020?

    What rules do you think should be in play?

    Have you previously argued for this position?

    You mean the republicans?  Or the nationals?  I think there should not be a random body of partisan officials who arbitrarily make decisions about debates.  Then again, I’m not sure how else it could work.  I don’t see any reason why ballot access wouldn’t decide participation.  If you’re on the ballot, I’d like to hear you debate the other people on the ballot.

    For the republican primaries, I’d prefer to see it operate a bit more like UKIP.  Interview the candidates and have an internal process to decide which candidates to have in the primaries. 17 people on stage was a clown-show that should’t have happened.

    • #15
  16. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    James Of England: We already reward people who get 5% with a hundred million dollars in public money. How could it possibly appear that we don’t do enough to encourage this sort of hucksterism in which people who know that they will not become President separate the vulnerable from their money on the basis of promises to achieve whatever the donors want them to achieve?

    Obviously, opening it up like that would be ridiculous.  But I would not be surprised if a person debating against Hillary and Trump could actually result in a win (or throwing it to the house).  Unfortunately, people are greatly persuaded by what they see on TV.  Exposure is everything, and having only those 2 people run all but guarantees that nobody else could possibly win, which becomes a circular argument, because people who couldn’t possibly win shouldn’t be debating, etc…

    • #16
  17. Johnnie Alum 13 Inactive
    Johnnie Alum 13
    @JohnnieAlum13

    Johnson and Stein should be on the stage. If you are on the ballot in enough states to possibly reach 270 EC votes then you should be up there.

    McMullin should not be there. He is only on the ballot in enough states to reach 84 EC, it goes up to 186 if you include the write-in options.

    • #17
  18. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    RyanM:

    James Of England:

    You mean the republicans? Or the nationals? I think there should not be a random body of partisan officials who arbitrarily make decisions about debates. Then again, I’m not sure how else it could work.

    You could have the government decide. That was what the “Libertarian” party had as their first instinct when they sued earlier in the cycle. I feel like it’s pretty unkind to agree with someone calling the current system corrupt (“rigged”) if you think that it’s possible that it’s the best system.

    I don’t see any reason why ballot access wouldn’t decide participation. If you’re on the ballot, I’d like to hear you debate the other people on the ballot.

    Do you mean that there should be an undercard debate, or that we should change the rules to have a 17 person clown show now?

    For the republican primaries, I’d prefer to see it operate a bit more like UKIP. Interview the candidates and have an internal process to decide which candidates to have in the primaries. 17 people on stage was a clown-show that should’t have happened.

    How would this be better than having a higher polling cut off at an earlier stage? Who in the party would be better at selecting candidates than the primary voters? Just in case, I feel like it’s worth keeping in mind here that no viable selection process would have resulted in Trump being excluded. It also seems worth noting that there weren’t 17 people on stage. The first debate had 10 people on stage and a 7 man undercard debate, in which Fiorina did well enough to get promoted, making the second the largest debate stage, with 11 people. In the national debate, an undercard debate is available if people want to organize it.

    • #18
  19. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    RyanM:

    James Of England: We already reward people who get 5% with a hundred million dollars in public money. How could it possibly appear that we don’t do enough to encourage this sort of hucksterism in which people who know that they will not become President separate the vulnerable from their money on the basis of promises to achieve whatever the donors want them to achieve?

    Obviously, opening it up like that would be ridiculous. But I would not be surprised if a person debating against Hillary and Trump could actually result in a win (or throwing it to the house). Unfortunately, people are greatly persuaded by what they see on TV. Exposure is everything, and having only those 2 people run all but guarantees that nobody else could possibly win, which becomes a circular argument, because people who couldn’t possibly win shouldn’t be debating, etc…

    It’s perfectly true that a plausible candidate could get a tremendous boost from the debates. That’s why a plausible candidate would get onto the debate stage; Perot, for instance. The difficulty with that comes in finding viewpoint neutral rules that get a few people onto the stage without inviting a lot of people on. You could do it this time by changing the rules mid-stream (after the fact, it’s always easy to pick criteria that will support a particular candidate), but that isn’t a conservative or small r republican approach to government and should generally be rejected as a way of handling democratic elections.

    • #19
  20. Ward Robles Inactive
    Ward Robles
    @WardRobles

    The CPD should have their 501(c)(3) ticket pulled, because they clearly work for two specific parties and thus fail the requirement of being nonpartisan. The co-chairs are Frank Fahrenkopf, former head of the Republican National Committee, and former Clinton  White House press secretary Mike McCurry.

    • #20
  21. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    James Of England:

    I Walton:Johnson should be there. We need a libertarian party. We already have a green party. A conservative party would be nice but we lost our chance.

    What idea or policy, specifically, do you think the electorate would be exposed to via the debates if Johnson was to debate? Or do you believe there would be a different benefit? What do you believe the rule should be for 2020?

    Both Hillary and Trump believe the central government can manage the economy, fix social problems, correct human foibles.  A libertarian would question those assumptions because the assumptions are wrong.   Successful third parties pull the main party’s in their own direction.  I want them pulled toward limited government.   We don’t want debates to be like the Republican primary, we need some rules but I’d like to see at least one debate with the libertarian candidate on the stage, he has more support than half the Republican primary candidates did.

    • #21
  22. Ward Robles Inactive
    Ward Robles
    @WardRobles

    I Walton:… We don’t want debates to be like the Republican primary, we need some rules but I’d like to see at least one debate with the libertarian candidate on the stage, he has more support than half the Republican primary candidates did.

    There is an objective criteria that will be keep the debate stage from getting crowded: require the third-party candidate to be on the ballot in all the states. Johnson, Trump and Clinton are the only candidates are on the ballot in all 50. I do not see how a truly objective debate organizer could exclude Johnson and Weld given that this is a country where approximately 40% of voters reject the two-party duopoly, that Johnson and Weld are both former two-term governors, and that they, uniquely among third-party candidates, qualified to be on the ballot in all 50 states.

    • #22
  23. Ward Robles Inactive
    Ward Robles
    @WardRobles

    CM:Somewhere in the Obama era, I became hyper aware that the media has too much power concerning our election process. The ability to pick and choose what they cover is manipulative and they are largely picking our presidents for us. Having Johnson on stage makes the LP somewhat harder to marginalize into non-existence.

    If the top line in the media’s polls is always the two-party horserace, that is always going to put a third-party or independent challenger at a huge disadvantage in meeting an arbitrary polling threshold.  The long Democrat and Republican primary system, mainstream media polls that marginalize third party candidates, and a high polling threshold (higher than 1992, apparently) combine to make a third party candidacy seemingly impossible.

    • #23
  24. JLocked Inactive
    JLocked
    @CrazyHorse

    Man, do we need to have a dissolution party for a genuine American Party?

    • #24
  25. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    You missed a criteria:

    4) If an independent candidate is deemed to hurt the Republican they will be included. (See Perot, Ross). If they are deemed to hurt the Democrat they shall be excluded. Or if including the leading Republican vote sucker means including one or more Democratic vote suckers, all will be deemed ineligible.

    • #25
  26. JLocked Inactive
    JLocked
    @CrazyHorse

    Interesting. 20% of the popular, you think Perot only hurt HW?

    • #26
  27. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    JLocked: Interesting. 20% of the popular, you think Perot only hurt HW?

    Well, he didn’t hurt the winner.

    • #27
  28. JLocked Inactive
    JLocked
    @CrazyHorse

    So you’re saying an independent message hurts Republicans the most?

    • #28
  29. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Johnson, Stein, McMullin locked out of presidential debates.

    That is fantastic news.

    They have zero chance of winning.

    Let us see the Clinton-Trump brawl.

    • #29
  30. goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    No they shouldn’t be in the debates. The right call was made.

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.